Thursday, October 18, 2012

Advertising Intolerance

Please note: This is a rant. As such it contains salty language unsuitable for young children (who shouldn't be surfing the internet unsupervised, anyway) and prudes (likewise).

We all know that advertising wants to sell us stuff, right? Companies sell ad space and advertisers try to entice us to buy their stuff. So what does this sell?

It sells out, that's what it does! This is an ad for the website College Humor, which appeared on the back page of DC's Sword of Sorcery (featuring Amethyst) #1 -- arguably a book aimed at females, since the main protagonist, Amethyst (a reboot of the 80s comic character), is female. It's also written and edited by women (Christy Marx and Rachel Gluckstern, respectively). I'm not a fan of College Humor; I find the fratboy-level intellect just a little too grating. Fine, whatever, it's not for me. I don't have to look at it.

But then DC Comics sold them ad space. A lot of ad space. Like nearly every DC and Vertigo title ran the ad. What. The. Fuck.

There's been so much attention given to the whole Fake Geek Girl meme and the challenging reactions to it. John Scalzi, bestselling author and president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, blogged about who gets to be a geek. The Mary Sue blogged about it. Probably lots of other people did, too, but I don't spend every waking moment online. I really can't believe people at DC are so damned stupid that they wouldn't realize that nerd grrls are on the verge of starting a bloody revolution. Starting in their offices.

I first caught wind of the ad last week, at The Mary Sue. I was pretty annoyed, and sent DC a tweet about it. Today I picked up SoS #1, got to the back page, and damned if it wasn't there, too. A little digging, and I learned that it's pretty much publisher-wide. Really, DC? Are you so hurting for money that you sell that much ad space for an ad that alienates any female readers you have left?? Or are you rolling in so much cash that you don't care if all women quit buying your books?

DC is apparently aware of what they're doing, and they don't care. Here's a great article by Georgia Ball about it, written in February ('12): "Women Do Not Read Comics Says DC and Kevin Smith."
DC will also conclude that as female readers don’t exist, content offerings don’t need to change. As long as mainstream comics continues to ignore and offend female audiences, the more they will see that audience shrink, leaving plenty of opportunity for independent titles made available digitally to take their place.
So I undoubtedly wasted my breath when I sent them a message this evening via their contact form, questioning their judgement on that particular transaction with College Humor. Maybe, just maybe, if enough women let them know that We Are Not Amused by this, and want them to stop, it will make a difference. Or maybe it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and all women will stop buying their titles and tell them to go to hell. Contact form is here -- so if you buy comics and think this ad is bullshit, let 'em know.

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